My Old Scoutmaster

The Boy Scouts have a set of laws that they typically stand by, promising to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, etc.” and I am certain that those laws have an influence on the Scouts.

As I came up through the ranks over the years though, one of the themes I saw though, at least among the boys, was “avoid bothersome work if possible.”

Now, we were all about making fires, putting up tents, cooking dinner, and especially shooting guns. But when it came to things like getting wood or cleaning up after dinner, no sir. That was when you tried to make yourself scarce.

One campout, I was standing within earshot of the leaders when the Scoutmaster asked the Assistant Scoutmaster if he would carry out a particular task.

And while I have forgotten the nature of the task long ago, I have not forgotten his response.

“Sure, I’ll do that.”

I remember being stunned to hear that. It’s not that is was so unexpected for an adult to have that attitude. It was more because I was so immersed in the child attitude of:

“I’d rather not do that.”

Although I have forgotten his name, that Assistant Scoutmaster’s four words have really stuck with me. His attitude of serving was novel to a young man.

A much later Scouting event had us serving up hot dogs at a community fair. I saw the Assistant Scoutmaster who had by that time moved on to other things, walking among the crowd with some friends, evangelizing.

I think one of the dynamics that has cemented those two impressions is that I saw the helping first, and the witnessing second. His initial service gave his later witness a true credibility.

It made a lasting impact.

Can you imagine the impact it might have had on me to see him self-centered, as I was, and then watched him evangelize?



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